How Uber is planning to impress Wall Street after Q4 profits surge

Industry

Uber Technologies Inc. plans to outline its strategy for growth and new business opportunities when it holds its first investor day as a public company on Thursday, after teasing news on a global car-sharing network and improved algorithms to keep costs low.

Company executives during a fourth-quarter earnings call on Wednesday said they would provide more details on how Uber plans to fuse its two platforms — ride-hail and food delivery — into one cost-saving Uber marketplace.

The company on Wednesday posted its second quarterly operating profit and said ride demand recovered to nearly pre-pandemic levels.

Uber swung to $86 million in adjusted earnings during the fourth quarter compared with a $454 million adjusted loss during the same quarter last year. Revenue surged 83 percent to $5.8 billion. Shares in Uber rose 6 percent in premarket trading.

Since Uber went public in May 2019, the company’s shares have been on a roller-coaster ride, nearly halving at the start of the pandemic in early 2020, when the company’s ride-hail business came to a screeching halt.

Uber is telling investors it has turned the corner and is set up for long-term growth and profitability as pandemic restrictions subside in many of its core markets, but its shares remain hovering at roughly the same level as when they first listed.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said the company had shareholders’ interest in mind.

“We want to be a growth business, but we want to be a profitable growth business and we want to be improving margins going forward,” he told analysts on a conference call on Wednesday.

Khosrowshahi said a better combination of its rides and delivery business would bring down customer acquisition costs — a metric investors closely follow in a market where companies have long competed by outbidding each other with costly customer discounts and incentives.

The company was also tweaking its algorithm to ensure more workers signed up for both ride-hail and delivery services, Khosrowshahi said, adding that it would improve driver dispatching and allow for higher utilization of each worker.

The CEO also promised an update on other new business opportunities, including a global peer-to-peer car rental network. Uber last month acquired Australian car-sharing company Car Next Door and Khosrowshahi said Uber planned to expand car-sharing’s footprint.

“I think with peer-to-peer car rentals, we’ll go global. We’ll make sure we do it in the right way,” he said.

Several automakers have exited the peer-to-peer car-sharing market in recent years, citing high costs and the volatile state of the mobility industry.

Uber’s investor day will take place in New York City and begin at 9 a.m. local time.

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